Friday, January 1, 2010

Open ye the east door and let the new year in!

Confessions of a Ridiculously Exhausted Suburban Greenmom...

I suppose in the interest of full disclosure I should admit up front that I’ve always sort of thought of New Year’s Resolutions as kind of a crock, an arbitrary date on which people are supposed to automatically have a sense of what they want to accomplish and be ready to take the steps to accomplish it. A date when lofty goals are set with no realistic plan or idea of what steps need to be taken and exactly what it will cost to achieve it. (In that, sort of like Copenhagen, I guess.) (As a result, I’ve tended to not make New Years resolutions at all, or if I do, I pick something fairly manageable. Like remembering to sign checks with the new date in the “year” box.)

And yet here I am writing a post about them. Go figure.

The thing is, it is the new year, and while making sweeping pronouncements about change isn’t something I’m inclined to do, taking a little time to look back and reflect on where I’ve come over the past year, and where I’d perhaps like to go in the year to come, is something I think is really worthwhile. No particular reason, I guess, why it has to be done in the beginning of January—it’s just when It’s Done, you know? Open ye the west door and let the old year go…Open ye the east door and let the new year in, as the carol sings…

So what have I done, greening-wise, over the past year? For one thing, I got serious about my blog. I’ve had one for a while, but last spring I decided to really put some energy into it, and it’s been something that’s given a lot of energy right back to me. (Plus it’s found me a spot here among the superheroes at the Booth, which is awesome!)

We got serious about our garden this year and grew enough food that we had to buy very little produce for a good portion of the summer. And we started making a separate trip to the local farmstand for other produce rather than just grabbing it at the grocery store. Somewhere during this year I started examining packages to see where my eggs and apples came from, and somewhere else during this year I realized that I pretty much never bother to go near the “normal” grocery store any more. My crockpot gets almost daily use these days, and most convenience foods have disappeared from the cabinets of my kitchen. Our family can get through most weeks on only one bag of garbage and two bins of recycling. And our stash of grocery bags has dwindled to almost nothing, as I’ve started bringing my own bags. I read Michael Pollan. I watched Food, Inc.

But on the other hand, there are a good number of areas I could certainly improve on. We still use paper towels and napkins, way too many of them. Public transportation is something I barely touch. I work only about 8 miles from home; during the spring and summer months I could certainly bike to work, but I don’t, I never have. I still set foot in Wal-Hell and Target far more often than I’d like to, and I still occasionally pull into drive-throughs and get food I know isn’t good for me. And I still weigh a good many pounds more than I should. I’m too sedentary, and I am not careful with my diet; I don’t much care about being thin, but I have a feeling if I stopped eating the bad stuff, ate when I was hungry and paid attention to what food my body needed at any given moment, I’d probably lose a good bit of the extra weight I’m carrying around…

So…resolutions? As I said, I don’t really believe in them. I believe in paying attention. So I hereby resolve, in the coming year, to stay alert, to pay attention to what’s happening in the world. To pay attention to my own life, and my family’s, and watch for places where I can keep growing. To look for what is useless and cluttering up my life, both inwardly and outwardly, and try to divest myself of it. To look for what is valuable and life-giving and nourish and cherish it. Scheduling opportunities and readiness seldom succeeds; but keeping our eyes open to see them coming makes them much easier to grasp when they do appear. And when we’ve grasped one opportunity and it’s had its time, we need to be able to let go of it, to free our hands to grasp the next thing that comes along.

So—a wonderful and verdant New Year to all!

“Here we bring new water from the well so clear

For to cleanse our spirits in this happy new year.

Sing levy dew, sing levy dew, the water and the earth

Let the old year go so the new year can give birth”

(from an old New Year carol)


Lynn from said...

I love your post! It's so true....why do this? But if not now, when? The only other time that actually feels like more of a new start to me is September. I think it's because of all those years of back-to-school "new years."

As for the extra pounds? Would love to have you on my new weight loss support group if you'd like it...and think it would be helpful.

Anna (Green Talk) said...

I love your concept of paying attention. So many of us pass through life unconscious of the opportunities around us as well as the growth we can make.

Stopping and smelling the flowers so to speak. (Now, if I can only take my own advice...)

Diane MacEachern said...

Yes, we all need to pay a bit more attention to the things that matter and not get caught up in all that stuff that doesn't. Thanks for the reminder!

L.A. said...

A few years ago my resolution was to concentrate on the word AWARE and apply it to my daily life.
Being more 'aware' made some huge differences in my life...more than any actual resolutions would have done.
Good luck on your journey.

Brenna said...

I am not one for resolutions either. I love the idea of simply paying attention though. Looking back and what we did right and what we can do better next year is most definitely worthwhile. I think our world would be a very different place if more people just paid more attention.

Daisy said...

Looking at possibilities is the best way to start making changes. The paper towels and napkins will fade away as you replace them with rags and cloth napkins. Take the first step; the rest come easily.

Citizen Green said...

Paying attention is one thing that the average consumer does not do. We just buy what is convenient - not considering the wasteful packaging or the unhealthy food additives. We all need to pay attention to our consumer habits and to the health of the earth. Great post. I like how you think!

Linda A

Katy Farber said...

Pay attention to what we eat, where we spend our money, what the packaging is-- all of it!

Thanks for the post and for contributing to the carnival.

Anonymous said...

Paying attention is a great (non)resolution, and I think you're right. I bet I would lose some extra weight, too, if I were more mindful.

Your post also made me think about the disposable tissues I still use. Maybe sewing some hankies would be a good green project for me. Thanks for the inspiration!

Green Fundraising Ideas said...

I admire that you have nixed the convenience foods from your pantry. I need to work on doing that for our family! That's something I will work towards in the new year - and crockpocking more!

EcoLabel Fundraising

Green & Clean Mom said...

I'm like you, I'm doing so much but still- I can always do more and be motivated and inspired by others for ideas and strength. I really need to decrease our trash and start thinking about what we're throwing away. Thanks for the reminder!

Condo Blues said...

I'm not one for resolutions either. I'm goal oriented, so I set goals.

Healthy eating starts with label reading! Like all things that are good for you, it takes time to learn what your new options are!

Mindful Momma said...

I sounds like your resolution is to be more mindful of opportunities to live a greener & healthier life....something I believe in wholeheartedly!! Keep it up!!


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